The recent proliferation of companies using the ICO or Initial Coin Offering to raise funds has seen it’s share of successes since 2016 and it’s a great way for companies to raise funds without the restrictive and costly regulatory compliance issues associated with other fundraising vehicles such as Regulation Crowd Funding or IPO’s (Initial Public Offering). According to The Merkle online journal the top ten ICO’s in 2017 to date are:
These are some of the success stories to date, however, there have been many ICO’s that took advantage of the unregulated investment vehicle and The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) issued several stern warnings to investors about the dangers and risks involved with ICOs although they have yet to issue any regulations I am confident that they are forthcoming. China and South Korea both issued total bans on ICO’s until they can come up with some regulations while the United States has issued several warnings and has stated that they may pursue enforcement actions retroactively against any ICO’s that are done prior to whatever regulations they may come out with in the future. The Merkel recently published the following three ICOs as being obvious scams:
The Opair ICO was one of the earliest noted scams in ICO history happening back in 2016. They raised more than $1M with the promise of decentralized debit cards.
It should have been pretty obvious from the start, that a no-name group of individuals could not overhaul the banking system and provide decentralized debit cards that would work anywhere right off the bat, but with more and more exciting new Blockchain technology hitting the markets, people were hopeful.
Things started to unravel when users pointed out that the Opair team seemed to have fake LinkedIn profiles, and despite providing tons of personal information and pictures, refused to attend events or go on video calls for “privacy reasons.”
Not long after the Opair token was listed on exchanges, lots of coins were rapidly dumped, the main website was taken offline and the team went silent.
Sleuths on Bitcointalk.org later realized that the conman behind the Opair later launched at least one other scam ICO known as EBITZ (a Zcash clone) as the scammer use some of the same server DNS records for the new website.
There is still a bit of debate about BitCad, if it was a downright scam or if it was just a failed attempt at something larger. But, none the less a lot of people lost a lot of money.
BitCad raised $5M promising to be, well, everything. The BitCad ICO project aimed at replacing nearly every component of modern business, government, trading and transaction facilitation and gave very few insights into how they were going to make this happen.
While at first, they boasted a pretty large team, after the ICO team members started to depart the team quite rapidly, and announcements from the team ground to a halt.
The team was supposed to deliver the first component of the platform back in May 2017, that included a smart contract constructor and biometric verification, by October 2017 they were also supposed to launch a dispute resolution department, a multistakeholder token model, and a decentralized trade engine. None of which have been launched yet.
People are still holding their breath hoping for signs of life in the BitCad platform, but this is another ICO where they were either being sold snake oil or a team took on a project that was way over their heads.
Authorship was an ERC20 token that raised $1M with the promise of creating a system for writers, translators, and journalists to earn and exchange ATS tokens for their works.
Participants should have been skeptical when the tokens creators mentioned the desire to build out this token from their experience running the bookstore: http://www.ireadbooks.org/ – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the terrible e-commerce website that only sells pencils and blank notebooks isn’t much of a “bookstore.”
They also listed their address as “11015 York Road Cockeysville Maryland” which is the home of an entirely unrelated ‘Precision Auto Mechanics” business which seems to have no relation to the coin creators.
What really did in Authorship though was their failure to distribute tokens from the bounty and referral programs. It wasn’t until then that users realized they had been scammed and started digging into the addresses above.
Arguably had Authorship distributed the tokens, we may have categorized this just as a failed attempt at an ICO rather than a downright scam.